I’ve already posted quick recaps of each day of Shaky Knees Music Festival last weekend in Atlanta’s Central Park, and I’ve posted some larger galleries too — Interpol, The Avett Brothers, Tame Impala, The Strokes, Mastodon. I’ve also posted about 8 acts that played stellar early afternoon shows. And soon I’ll be sharing a huge gallery to the hissing lawns Facebook page (please take a second and “like” us — it really helps).
One of the most exciting things about covering a festival like Shaky Knees is the chance to connect with a broader music community — with fans, musicians, other press. And it’s pretty cool when your photos are shared by The Strokes:
@thestrokes Shaky Knees (from @hissinglawns) pic.twitter.com/gcghTnfajP
— The Strokes Fans (@TheStrokes_Fans) May 11, 2015
There were more Savannah folks at Shaky Knees than I expected. A couple other of our contributors were there, just to enjoy themselves, and I was running into people I knew all weekend. And I had the requisite awkward moments when Armstrong State University students greeted me by name and I couldn’t remember theirs.
Next time I’ll do a little more homework, however. I had a couple of “oh shit” moments, like when I realized that I had missed almost all of Diamond Rugs on the Boulevard stage.
The festival was billed as taking place in Central Park, but it spilled over into another nearby park and into the parking lot of the Civic Center. That parking lot was brutally hot — and the pavement hard, obviously — but those seemed like small compromises to comfort. I didn’t attend Shaky Knees in 2014, but the whole festival was on pavement at Atlantic Station.
It would have been nice if the three smaller stages adjacent to the Civic Center had been a tad closer to the main stages in Central Park, but the space still worked really well — no serious bleeding of sound, no major bottlenecks for pedestrians. I will say, however, how surprised I have been that even some midtown Atlanta residents don’t even know the name and location of Central Park, which apparently borders some sketchier neighborhoods.
Bands started on time, unfailingly, and the sound was uniformly excellent, I thought. A couple of friends mentioned that the sound up close wasn’t as good on the main stage, but I didn’t really notice. I guess I just expect that. There were ample bathrooms, it seemed to me — always a good sign.
Food trucks: great idea, poor execution. There were two areas for food trucks, both conveniently placed. I enjoyed ordering from a couple of them, but by the time people were actually looking for dinner, all the trucks had dozens of people in line. I know the idea of food trucks is to cook things fresh to order, but next year someone just has to have some food that people can walk up and buy. Or, get a whole lot more food trucks on site.
From a post at the AJC’s Atlanta Music Scene by Melissa Ruggieri and Yvonne Zusel: “As for the smoking, well, since the fact that the city banned smoking in public parks three years ago coupled with the myriad signs around the area didn’t seem to deter many from burning through a pack of cigarettes, some enforcement would be appreciated next year.”
I wasn’t bothered at all by the smoking, but, wow, there were a lot of butts on the ground. Those things were tough to clean up, I’m sure. I actually was surprised that more people weren’t smoking — if Shaky Knees were in Savannah, there would have been a much higher percentage of smokers, for sure. The “cool kids” here all seem to smoke, which is a stupid and expensive habit. Anyway . . .
In that same post, Ruggieri and Zusel suggest a little more time between sets. Because of the precise timing, if you wanted to see the beginning of one set, you sometimes had to skip the end of another. And if you were walking from the Civic Center lot to Central Park, then you had to sacrifice something.
Of course, if even 5 minutes is added as a cushion, that means less music over the course of the day — and maybe even one less time slot. It’s an interesting proposition.
It seemed like there were bars everywhere — expensive drinks, but easy to get. The water stations were quick and efficient. The vendors were mysteriously out of Diet Coke by day 2, which was probably the result of poor planning, but that will be easy to address next year.
I’ll add that I was struck all weekend by the chill vibe at Shaky Knees. The security folks were watchful but not overbearing. The festival’s staffers and volunteers were easy to communicate with.
I was especially impressed by the technical specs of the main stage — the video screens flanking the stage were awesome.
I’d go back to Shaky Knees in a heartbeat if the festival has a lineup even close to this one next year. It was a real thrill seeing The Strokes, especially, but the lineup was so strong from top to bottom that Shaky Knees seems poised to attract excellent acts again next year. I’d guess that the venue could accommodate several thousand more people per day, so there’s definitely room to grow.